Reverse The Supreme Court On Corporate Campaign Cash
ELECTION FINANCE • Sen. Dodd is right to seek amendment as antidote to bad decision
February 20, 2010
We've always been reluctant to support proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution willy-nilly. But U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd can make a good case for his proposed amendment to reverse the Supreme Court's dreadful decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
In the recent 5-4 decision, an activist conservative majority overturned 100 years of precedents to come to the unjustified conclusion that bloodless corporations that exist only on paper have the same free-speech rights as individual Americans.
The practical effect of the ruling is to free corporations and unions to dump unlimited amounts of money on their favorite candidates in federal election campaigns. The decision wiped out hard-won campaign financing reforms and threatens to skew American politics even more to the benefit of special interests.
There's only so much Congress can do statutorily to blunt the ruling. That's why Mr. Dodd says "a constitutional amendment is necessary to fully restore the trust and voice of the American people. If corporations — foreign as well as domestic — are allowed even greater and more direct influence over our elections, our democracy as we know it will cease to exist."
Mr. Dodd's proposed amendment, which has not yet been formally introduced, will authorize Congress to regulate the raising and spending of money for federal campaigns and authorize the states to do the same for campaigns for state offices.
If a Washington Post- ABC News poll taken this month is any indication, Mr. Dodd's proposal should be wildly popular.
The poll shows that Americans of both parties — eight in 10 — overwhelmingly oppose the court's ruling in the Citizens United case and want limits again imposed on campaign spending.
Although Republicans in Congress praise the radical ruling in favor of unlimited special interest money in campaigns, 76 percent of rank-and-file Republicans oppose the high court's Jan. 21 decision. Eighty-five percent of Democrats oppose it, as do 81 percent of independents.
Congressional Republicans are out of touch. Mr. Dodd is on the right track
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at